A long-time fan's delight and a wonderful introduction for newbies: Sara Groves – The Collection...
Fair Trade Music
2 discs: Disc 1 - 13 tracks / 52 minutes
Disc 2 -14 tracks / 55 minutes
Most 'collections' are a mixed bag: an artist's early, uncertain works followed by an identity-establishing period of quality tracks, and then hit-or-miss current content.
Not so with Sara Groves.
Sara's work throughout her career has been of such an uncompromising brilliance – right from the start – that a song from her first album can be placed next to a song from a year or two ago and sound just as strong. Truth is truth, and artistic integrity doesn't age. "Painting Pictures of Egypt," from 2001's Conversations, for example, stands up well next to any of the four new tracks on The Collection.
Refreshingly free of pretensions and drama, Groves' lyrics always seem to hit home and speak to the soul. Her melodies are simple, singable, memorable, and sound distinctly Sara Groves-ish. The songs on both discs stream easily from one to the next, with the same warm, real, human-players feeling, with Sara's piano and voice always a common thread. It's a fine voice - functional yet vulnerable, intoning lyrics that not only have the ring of truth but the cutting edge of reality about them. Things aren't all neatly tied up in a bow by the end of the song. There are questions here as well as answers. If you have lived at all, they will reach you. These are just plain good songs...
The song selection? Like they say: it's all good. Would I choose differently? Sure – I certainly would have included "The Boxer" - a song that I think is one of Sara's most adventurous, musically. Still, if you're at all sensitive you simply cannot get through any set of these songs without being moved. This is music that the Christian community can be proud of. Is Sara our Joni? Maybe. But that's looking at things through that weird 'us and them' filter. Sara Groves is Sara Groves – artist, poet, musician, Christian. Unapologetically.
If you don't know her, buy this and begin. If you've been a fan for years – buy it for four new songs and to re-listen to 23 old favorites that never really get old.
- Bert Saraco